Did you know that failing to close deals is not often a problem itself but, instead, a symptom of a bigger problem?
It is true – if your salespeople cannot close sales, it is likely the result of a flaw in some aspect of their sales process or within the person.
That is why, as the sales manager, you must quickly identify the salespeople on your team who are struggling and why. This way, you can invest resources into the right people who can improve and increase your team’s overall performance and sales.
Keep reading to discover why some of your salespeople cannot close sales and what you can do to help them improve.
9 Reasons Why Your Sales Team Cannot Close Deals
1. They are complacent.
They are fine with doing just enough to get by. They do not work extra hours if they do not have to. It would be nice if they are the top salesperson, but that is not important to them. They need just enough to meet their needs.
Top salespeople are different.
Top sales hunters have an innate motivation to achieve. They have a burning desire to pursue excellence and nothing will get in their way of achieving it.
As psychology professor, David McClelland and his colleagues reported in their 1987 book Human Motivation, people high in Need for Achievement want to do well for the personal satisfaction achievement brings.
This intense motivation pushes people to set tough but achievable goals, to find innovative solutions and to take personal responsibility for their performance. In other words, the prescription for a dream salesperson.
As detailed in his 1961 book The Achieving Society, McClelland found an association between high Need for Achievement and sales ability across several cultures. In particular, he noted that sales careers are attractive to achievers because salespeople must make decisions about which prospects to call on, take personal responsibility for making calls, choose moderate risks, find creative methods of persuasion and monitor their success.
2. They are not competitive
Do you know someone who hates losing?
Whether it is hitting the sales goal for the month or an innocent game of checkers, this person always turns it into a competition and has a strong lust for winning.
Your salespeople MUST be competitive.
In a 1994 paper, Geoffrey Brewer, editorial director of Gallup Press, reported a survey of a half million salespeople from companies including Federal Express, Strycker Surgical and Home Savings of America, which concluded that Competitiveness is an essential trait for sales success.
In a 1998 study, University of Houston Marketing professor Steven Brown and his colleagues tested 158 medical supplies salespeople and found that highly competitive salespeople who saw the company climate as competitive consistently set higher goals. Conversely, salespeople who were low in Competitiveness consistently set lower goals, regardless of what they thought of the company climate.
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3. They do not think they will succeed…every time.
Sales can be brutal. It is common for a salesperson to hear several “no’s” before hearing a “yes.” Some salespeople are afraid of failure, which limits their skills and ability to sell.
Top salespeople are extremely optimistic. They are thick-skinned and expect to win every time.
In a 1999 review of 30 years of optimism research, Peter Schulman, research director of the Martin Seligman Research Alliance, discussed the relationship between optimism and motivation. He noted that “the ability to succeed and the desire to succeed are not always enough without the belief that one will succeed.
4. They are a “C player”
Identifying underperforming salespeople is a must. Is your salesperson an A, B or C player?
A players: Salespeople who regularly surpass your expectations.
B players: Salespeople who meet your expectations but could use some improvement.
C players: Salespeople who consistently fail to meet your expectations. Their numbers are significantly below the goal. They lack several basic sales skills, such as relationship building, organization or confidence. They frustrate customers. You likely would not hire them again.
These C players are almost impossible to change because they lack the personality traits to be an effective salesperson. Do not waste time in trying to train or improve them. It is best to reposition them to another role.
5. You give them poor quality leads
You cannot expect your sales team to close consistently if their leads are of poor quality. No matter how capable they are of selling, they will not be able to meet your expectations if they are forced to sell to people who are unlikely to be interested in the product/service.
If you have noticed that your team is struggling because of low-quality leads, partner with your marketing director and start thinking about new ways to bring in better leads. While this may take some extra time and effort on your part, it will be well worth the improved sales results you will see when you set your team up for success with good leads.
6. They fail to ask the right questions.
If your salespeople do not ask the right questions, they will fail to uncover the customer’s needs and other information necessary to close a sale.
That is why you must train your salespeople to ask good questions and use the information they learn to create a tailored sales pitch. Here are a few examples of questions an effective salesperson might ask in relation to the product/service being sold:
- What is your main frustration with your current vendor? This question will allow your salesperson to discover why the customer does not like his current situation and position the product/service being sold as a solution to that frustration.
- What goals are you looking to achieve? When the salesperson understands the customer’s goals, he can position the product or service being sold as an asset that will allow the customer to reach those goals faster.
- What concerns do you have about this product/service? This question will allow your salesperson to uncover any objections hindering the customer from making a purchase. Then, the salesperson can start working to overcome those objections and close the sale.
Keep in mind that your salespeople should start broad with their questions and get more specific as the conversation progresses. This will allow for a more natural conversation and help your salesperson build rapport in a way that allows him to close the sale.
7. They do not actively listen.
No matter how many great questions a salesperson asks, the sales process will remain ineffective if he does not actively listen to the customer’s responses.
Here is the active listening process for salespeople:
- Mentally prepare for active listening by shutting out distractions and focusing on the customer.
- After asking good questions as mentioned above, pay attention and let the customer talk without interrupting him or trying to think of what to say next. The key here is to listen so well that the customer’s intentions, thoughts and feelings are genuinely understood.
- Provide feedback when the customer is done talking. Start by clarifying what has already been said by the customer to make sure you are both on the same page. Then, respond to what the customer has said.
This process is critical to sales success, so if you have noticed that your salespeople are talking more than they are listening, it may be time for you to step in and offer some coaching on active listening.
Schedule some role playing to help your salespeople understand how active listening can help them close more sales and have them start implementing what they learn when talking to customers.
8. They do not know enough about the products/services being sold.
Put yourself in a salesperson’s shoes for a moment.
How well would you be able to sell something you knew nothing about?
Chances are, you would not be able to sell it effectively at all. The same applies when your salespeople do not fully understand the features/benefits of the product or service being sold.
Fortunately, this is a fairly easy problem for you to solve. All you need to do is provide your sales team with more resources and offer training that helps them learn what they need to know to sell your products/services.
You may also want to hold mock sales calls for your salespeople to get acclimated with your products / services and sales process. This is great practice for your salespeople and a way for you to coach them through any issues.
As a Sales Director, it may be tempting to pass around the same sales script to all of your team members. You may think that this is a quick, easy way to streamline the sales process and make it more consistent.
While consistency is important, it is more important for your sales team to have flexibility in their conversations. After all, every customer has different wants and needs, so your salespeople will be able to close more sales if they can tailor each pitch to the customer’s specific wants and needs.
That is why you should avoid telling your salespeople to use a script word-for-word every time they talk to a customer.
However, it is perfectly acceptable to provide your sales team with a script that can serve as a guide or resource to use during customer conversations. Just make sure you allow your team to change their sales process based on their own personality and the customers they are selling to.
9. They are afraid to ask for the sale.
This is one of the more obvious reasons you may find your salespeople unable to close sales. If they remain unaware of best practices when it comes to closing, they will continue to fail.
That is why you must make sure they know how to close a sale and are willing to confidently ask for the sale when the time is right.
All too often, salespeople continue to sell the customer when they should be wrapping up the conversation and closing the sale instead. So, teach your salespeople about the appropriate timing for closing a sale and make sure they know about the many different ways to close, including:
- Creating a sense of urgency – If your salesperson needs to prompt a quick purchase, he may say something like, “If you sign up today, we can give you a 20% discount.” This helps the customer rationalize the purchase and can make him far more likely to buy as a result.
- Asking why the customer is not ready to buy – While this seems counterintuitive, it works well because it allows the salesperson to either close the sale or learn why the customer is not ready to buy. When the salesperson learns why the customer is not ready to buy, he can work to overcome those objections and try closing the sale more directly afterward.
- Summarizing the purchase information and asking for a sale – If the customer seems ready to buy, have your salesperson re-state everything the customer is getting and then ask for the purchase. For example, if your company sells cable services, your salesperson might describe the package the customer is getting and then ask the customer what time would be best for a technician to come out and install the services.
Reviewing these 9 common closing issues and determining if any apply to your sales team can be a great place to start when trying to determine why your salespeople cannot close sales. Implementing solutions to any problems that you identify can improve your sales revenues. Remain patient and help your salespeople achieve the results you desire.